Posts Tagged ‘less is more’

Spring Cleaning (aka Mom vs. Clutter)

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Spring Cleaning? In my house, it’s more like spring, summer, fall and winter cleaning. Where do we store all the stuff we don’t use very often?  Some favorites are in a “spare” room, a large closet, the garage, or even a storage unit –  in our family, it’s the garage. I am so envious of people who can actually fit their car(s) in their garages — wow, what a concept. Although I try to live by many of the principles of voluntary simplicity, sometimes the road to simpler isn’t always easy or simple. This is the third time in only two years that I’ve attempted to clean & organize our garage. I used to think I was somewhat organized… then I had kids. Enough said.

The ‘Mom vs. Clutter’ match went something like this:

  • In this corner we have the current champion, the infamous Clutter; and in the other corner sits the stressed-out, always-exhausted, overwhelmed challenger, Mom. [spectators cheer loudly]
  • Round 1: Two years ago: We moved into our new home. I only had enough time & energy left to stack the multitude of packing boxes in one (large) area of the garage. Round goes to Clutter.
  • Round 2: One year ago: I bought a bunch of plastic tubs and moved all our stuff from the cardboard packing boxes into the tubs. At least it appeared to be more organized. Round again goes to Clutter.
  • Round 3: Last October: I started in and I’m almost done now, only five months later. This time I was serious about organizing our stuff.
    Some things I pondered as I cleaned:

    • How many stuffed animals do my two girls need? Four tubs full? Definitely not, but how do I give away all those cute little critters that seem to mean so much to my kids?
    • When am I actually going to have time to fix all those broken toys and damaged clothes? Yep, probably never.
    • (more…)

Letting Go During the Holidays

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Sometimes my unbound enthusiasm can make me go a little bit overboard during the holidays. My mind, buzzing with creative ideas, keeps coming up with just one more thing to cook, to make and to experience, until I am simply exhausted, thus losing the fun of the holidays by trying to do too much. I have bestowed on myself the huge responsibility of making the holidays magical for my family. This responsibility used to be a joy back when our family was smaller and the children were younger. But our increasingly complex lives now make this joy feel more like a chore.

The paradox is that the very things I like the most about Christmas-the magic, the surprises, the joy-were being destroyed by my best efforts to make sure they happened! It has taken years, but I have finally learned that the less I do and the more I can just be present in the moment, the more likely it is for my mythical, magical Christmas feeling to appear.

So if you find the holidays somewhat lacking or even forced (as if you have been trying too hard for too long), try simplifying what they mean to you. Identify the essence of the holiday and make sure to choose activities that celebrate the true meaning of the day (or days). Once I simplified my expectations, my true desires seemed much more manageable and made much more sense to me because they were now undeniably heartfelt.

And you know the funniest thing is, once we started really focusing on what Christmas truly meant to us, our material wants diminished and all the magic I was seeking flourished in our hearts quite by accident.

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Seuss

Monday, December 8th, 2008

… It started in low, then it started to grow

But this, this sound wasn’t sad. What, this sound sounded glad

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, was singing without any presents at all

He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming, it came. Somehow or other, it came just the same…

… He paused, and the Grinch put a hand to his ear

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?

It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Well, what happened then, well in Who-ville they say,

that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day…

- From How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

“Are We There Yet?”

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

A few years back, when our boys were 8 and 11, we took a vacation to Yosemite. We stayed at a place more than a few minutes outside the park (read: long car ride!). After several days of driving too long and hearing “Are we there yet?” too many times, we decided to explore closer to our hotel. We’d heard of a nice hiking trail just a few minutes away and set out one morning.

Walking around a corner and going just a bit, we found ourselves transported to our own mini Yosemite experience. We hiked for several hours, discovering so many little treasures, from a sweet horse named Clark to the smallest little friend, a black and yellow caterpillar. We even discovered a couple of small waterfalls with rock ledges. These turned out to be just right for our boys, since they wanted to climb around. By the end of the day, they were happy, relaxed, and ready to take on another car ride the next day!

Moral of the story? Sometimes we just try to cram too much into a family vacation. As adults we want to “see” everything, when in fact there are so many other things to see. By the way, on our drive home, I was not at all surprised to hear that my boys’ favorite experience was our mini Yosemite hike. It warmed my heart knowing that we’d made the right choice to experience part of our vacation on our kids’ own terms.